Special Report

Rejected Market Vendor Plans to Appeal

Julia Serna has launched a petition to support her appeal against the City's decision to reject her Colombian coffee stall at the renovated Farmers' Market.

By Ryan McGreal
Published November 18, 2010

this article has been updated

Julia Serna is angry. She just found out that her market stall, Julia Serna Colombian Coffee, will not have space in the renovated Farmers' Market when it re-opens in December.

Julia Serna looks angry because she's angry
Julia Serna looks angry because she's angry

Thanks to updated building code requirements and a new community kitchen, the renovated Market will have room for fewer stalls than the old space.

City staff developed a set of selection criteria that emphasizes local farmers and producers, artisan and handcrafted goods, organics and diversity of product mix. It also heavily weighs a complete application form with all required documentation.

Julia's stall sells organic, fair trade Colombian coffee - by the cup or by the pound - as well as organic chocolate, tea, and sugar. She also sells delicious empanadas.

The City sent letters to all the applicants who were not selected. Julia's letter reads:

In total, 95 application were received by the deadline of 4:00 pm on Tuesday October 12, 2010. There were many exceptional applications received. Tough decisions had to be made based on the mandate and direction provided by Hamilton City Council. At this time, it is not possible to offer your business a stall at the renovated market.

The letter notes that the review committee evaluating the applications was composed of representatives from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Farmers' Markets Ontario, as well as local representatives.

It also offers Julia an opportunity to appeal the decision by requesting a delegation to the next meeting of the Hamilton Farmers' Market Transition Sub-Committee, which will be held on Thursday, December 9.

Julia, an immigrant from Colombia and a single mother supporting her teenage daughter on the proceeds of her small business, feels the City does not do enough to support small, independent businesses.

She worries that she will lose her house if she's forced to close down her coffee shop, but refuses to give up. "I am a strong woman. I have cried because I'm so angry, but I'm strong and I will fight."

She brings a dim view of politicians and the political process with her from her homeland. "Colombia is a beautiful country, rich in natural resources, but there's too much corruption. I dealt with politicos, I know what they're like. The City told me, 'Don't worry, don't fight, you might be selected', but now I have to fight."

She adds, "Canadians are very nice, but they're too polite. They don't want to protest."

Julia is not afraid to protest. The sign on her espresso machine reads: "The City Says NO to Julia Serna Coffee. Please Say Yes!" She is gathering petitions and already has six pages filled. She's preparing an appeal to present to the City.

Customers of support are signing her petition and writing letters of encouragement
Customers of support are signing her petition and writing letters of encouragement

I contacted the City and asked for a list of which vendors have been approved and which have been rejected.

Anna Bradford, a culture division director in the City's community services department, replied to tell me that she can't provide that information because the appeals process is still underway and the list of stallholders has not yet been finalized.

She added that the appeals process has been communicated to the stallholders multiple times throughout the application process, and that some spaces have not yet been allocated. The decision of the Hamilton Farmers' Market Transition Sub-committee on December 9 will be final.

If any spaces are still available after the appeal, they will be made available under the same application process and selection criteria.

On a more general note, Ms. Bradford wrote, "A key objective of the Market is to offer a variety of high quality products. It is anticipated that the product mix will include local to internationally sourced products as well as some organic, heritage and specialty items."

Councillor Brian McHattie is the chair of the five-member Sub-Committee that will hear the appeals. In an email to RTH he wrote, "I know that City staff have made themselves available to meet with unsuccessful stallholder applicants and some of those individuals will be coming to speak to the Sub-Committee Dec 9."

Update: I asked Anna Bradford why Julia's application was rejected. It seems to me that a small, independent business selling high-quality, organic, fair-trade specialty goods seems like precisely the kind of business the Market needs. Ms Bradford replied:

I cannot speak to Julia's application specifically. However, vendors were urged to meet with staff to review the comments from the peer assessment. In some cases the issue of a low score was an incomplete application. In some incidents receiving the requested information will complete the application process and make the appeal quite easy.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

81 Comments

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 13:29:55

What a crying shame. No coffee because its not local Does that mean no saltwater fish stalls either????This is more diverse????? Somebody really doesn't have a clue

Comment edited by turbo on 2010-11-18 12:32:16

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By Far Too Canadian (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 13:34:15

She's damn right, Canadians are way too polite! Staff are used to people grumbling quietly but "you can't fight city hall" maybe it's finally time to change that when they shove around a small businessperson who sounds like exactly what the criteria are supposed to value!

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 13:39:03

I'll be honest, I don't typically go to the farmers market to purchase Colombian coffee, but here is an innovative idea. There are many vacant shops in Jackson's Square nearby, Why not offer some of the rejected marketeers the ability to set up shop there? That or here is another idea, build another farmers market at Ottawa St.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 14:18:24

head down and sign her petition folks. This sort of high quality, ethnic, small business is exactly what we need more of in the Market, not less.

She has been selling fair trade, organic products years before they became 'buzz words' with little meaning.
I understand Red Hill Coffee was accepted into the market, and I'm excited about that, but there is room for more than one coffee stall in the market. Most markets have several coffee stalls.

I know people who go to the Market simply to get this coffee...and while there they grab some other product as well.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 14:44:17

Another case of city beaurocracy failing to get it right, despite the fact that it tries.

Yes local and organic produce are good. Yes the market should appeal to a braoder demographic including those with more income

No that should not be used as a blanket qualifier. No that does not eliminate the need to accomodate certain food staples that are not available locally year round.

They must also recognize that there is no full service grocery store downtown, and for a lot of loyal market customers, the market is it. It's where we buy our food.

I've seen more upscale markets in other cities, and they fail at providing the utilitarian value that ours does. The Ottawa farmer's market is terrible - they sell more non-food there than food. I hate to think that's where our market is headed.

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 14:54:17

http://www.raisethehammer.org/blog/1922/draft_farmers'_market_stallholder_selection_criteria My interpretation of the scorecard criteria that was recently published on RTH: Due to the smaller size of the market and fewer stalls, the City was ensuring that there was going to be less opportunity for the duplication of goods being sold. In this case, Red Hill Coffee trade roasts there coffee locally, so perhaps they would have scored higher; their gain may be Ms. Serna's loss.

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By oldcoote (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 14:57:04

Whoever gets the boot is not going to be happy, be it Ms. Serna or someone else. The selection criteria is flawed, but at least they are trying to improve the Market. I understand that all vendors are required to re-apply annually, which might present an opportunity for new vendors in the future.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2010 at 15:19:05

Most articles on the topic have referenced incomplete applications as one of the major reasons people weren't accepted - think that's a red herring or one of the primary things here?

And if so, does this unfairly weigh in the favour of those who are able to fill out the seemingly-lengthy application?

There can easily be a solution found by attaching a secondary market or partnering with Jackson Square - there's so many possibilities for creatively fixing this, we need to start looking at them!

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 16:42:25

Why Can't the space above Family Fitness/Good Life be used as an annex for Market Stalls? It is not very big, but if they put togethr some related specialty stalls, it would be little trip from the main market. Besides, I am getting really tired of seeing that unused space. It would have been nice if Good Life renovated it and brought some gym trolls to the surface, but all they did was repaint the same old dungeon and called it "Good Life".

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2010 at 16:44:37

Whatwhatwhaaaaat?

The Colombian coffee woman is losing her stall? But she serves the best coffee in the whole goddamned Jackson Square! WTF am I going to do!?

Okay, obviously the city needs to consider keeping the market expanded into Jackson Square or something... it's not like they're starving for floor-space.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 16:50:47

If there is in fact sufficient demand for the stuff Julia sells, the solution is simple...open up a store or kiosk in the square near the market, or even renting an empty storefront in the area. There are many alternatives for an independent entrepreneur like Julia.

When you have limited space available, and demand for that space exceeds supply, it's inevitable that someone's going to walk away disappointed. While I think the City does itself a disservice by being so hush-hush about the selection process, it is a decision that had to be made.

Then again, do we expect the city to make every decision public? Should we really be privy to, let's say, all of the people who applied to work in the City Hall cafeteria? Where do we draw the line between letting the staff we pay do their jobs, and demanding information to hold them publically accountable?

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 17:40:39

Andrea, I'm guessing that is exactly what happened - Red Hill scored higher than Julia My point is that two or three coffee stalls is suitable. Imagine the entire market with more seating, more dining options and yet only one coffee stall??
I understand getting rid of multiple TO Food Terminal stalls, but I liked having a couple quality cheese stalls to choose from and a couple coffee stalls would be the same. The goal should be diverse product, quality selection and a unique experience that can't be found in big stores.
I worry about price gouging if we decide that we can only have one of each product.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 18:38:53

I'm guessing the language barrier worked against Julia here. It's a shame staff didn't work more cooperatively with the stallholders to help them ensure that their applications were complete and comprehensive. If we're going to have selection criteria, let's at least make sure they're applied fairly and no one is discriminated against.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 18:40:46

If there is in fact sufficient demand for the stuff Julia sells, the solution is simple...open up a store or kiosk in the square near the market

Her business isn't big enough for a whole storefront, the operating costs would put her out of business. She's the perfect size for a market stall - and a perfect accompaniment to a market shopping trip. And yes, Pxtl, she makes the best coffee around (imho the best coffee in the city).

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By lower_food_court (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 19:17:57

Why not use the emptied out former foodcourt at the market's indoor entrance? There used to be a second cup, julia could take over what is probably still a coffee shop behind those doors.

simple solution! it's basically in the market anyway!

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By realitycheck (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 19:39:55

Does anyone else find it strange that the market was redesigned in a way that tenants would be forced out? There is something patently wrong with the 'reinvention' of a market that results in businesses shutting down. Shouldn't the city's activities be designed around supporting existing businesses? How is this poor treatment of small business owners by the city going to attract new businesses to the core?

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 20:41:01

Yes, it is a shame that all the current vendors can not move back. The Farmers Market has limited space; to make the necessary improvements that made the market conform to City bylaws and create the community room used up space formerly held by market stalls. I think that no matter what selection process was used, there would be unhappy folks. The actual terms of the market deal are murky, maybe there is a historian amongst us that knows more details, but the land for the market was originally gifted to the City with the caveat that there remain a farmers market in perpetuity. Hence, the market is run by the City, not the mall. I don't even know what landed is owned by the City versus was land is owned by Yale. My assumption is the City of Hamilton owns the Public Library and the Market.
Meredith was right on the money when she suggested that it's time to think of some creative solutions. If overflow into Jackson Square is possible then the City would have to negotiate a deal with Yale Properties. Yale Properties has done NOTHING to retain and attract decent retailers for YEARS.

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By adrian (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 20:45:32

I'm not entirely certain where I stand on the entire issue myself, but I do feel that if city staff - like Anna Bradford - were able to entirely avoid negative consequences for everyone, while achieving their goal of a better Farmer's Market, they would have done so - but in the real world, easy decisions like that don't exist.

Realitycheck asked, "Does anyone else find it strange that the market was redesigned in a way that tenants would be forced out?" To me, this is the most vital question. At some point, early in the process, the decision to have fewer stalls was made. By whom is not clear to me (although perhaps it's on record). In any case, once this decision was made, this situation was inevitable.

What this shows is that decisions that have a substantial public interest need to be framed as such right from the beginning. When plans for the market were being developed, did anyone, at any point, stand up and inform the public that the direction they were heading in was one where there would be fewer stalls, and that would mean, inevitably, that certain popular stallholders would be removed from the market?

Now that we're in this situation, we likely really are left with rule-based criteria. Some are subjective (e.g. "Degree of innovative expression ") and some are not (e.g. "Local Hamilton Farmer "). In a situation like this, decisions that are made on the basis of emotion are incredibly subject to accusations of bias, unfairness, influence, and so on. To avoid that, and in the interests of fairness, we're left with the rules. To me, that means if we wish to help people like Julia Serna, we need to revise the rules. For instance, perhaps there should be some additional criteria (and these could be subjective, objective, or both):

  • Degree to which owner depends on stall for their livelihood
  • Popularity of the stall amongst market goers
  • Extent to which removal of the stall has negative consequences on persons dependent on the stallholder
  • Etc.

On the other hand, the first criterion is to have completed the application, which is worth a whopping 25 points. Hopefully all of the worthy stallholders who are not in the current group did so.

Edit: Ryan, for the life of me I can't remember the Markdown syntax for links. It drives me crazy - I always mix up the parantheses. Can regular HTML anchor tags get added to a whitelist?

Comment edited by administrator adrian on 2010-11-18 19:53:20

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By TnT (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 20:56:04

What is going to happen to the "temp" space that the market is in now? Don't tell me that it will violate some outdated bylaw by being there? I imagine huge spikes in rent will also be coming to the market. For the first time in recent memory I think, "Shame on Brian McHattie." is passing my lips.

Comment edited by TnT on 2010-11-18 19:56:17

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By hmag (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 21:04:31

We as a city own the land underneath Jackson Square and lease it to Yale under I believe a 99 year agreement. The city owns the market/hpl building and also Copps Coliseum.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 21:04:41

This was the part that struck me the most:

"In some cases the issue of a low score was an incomplete application."

It seems to me that many of the vendors are elderly, or don't speak English as their first language. Should the city not have made an effort to go to these vendors and talk to them to get the additional information instead of issuing a rejection letter and putting the burden on the vendor to understand the appeals process?

I know it doesn't seem too difficult to us, as sophisticated computer-saavy urbanites, but to Julia Serna, or that elderly couple that sells apples, and many of the other vendors, this process is complicated and confusing.

If we learned anything from Al Gosling (elderly man in Toronto who was evicted by Toronto Community Housing, forced onto the streets, and eventually died in Hospital) it's that we can't expect the most vulnerable in our society to be able to respond to requests in the same way as we expect the more affluent.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2010 at 21:25:36

Ryan, for the life of me I can't remember the Markdown syntax for links. It drives me crazy - I always mix up the parantheses.

The syntax is:

[link text](URL)

Can regular HTML anchor tags get added to a whitelist?

The potential for uber-clever XSS makes whitelisting any HTML - and especially the anchor element - seem too risky a proposition.

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By adrian (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 21:35:08

I "know" what the syntax is, my problem is that I can't remember it.

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By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 21:35:58

So the market is going to have fewer stalls than before? It wasn't really that huge before. If the newly renovated market is to attract more people, what is the city thinking with fewer stalls? Do they want the market to fail?

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 22:27:23

@ hmag - thanks!

Even with fewer stalls, there are positive changes. From my understanding all the stall holders will have their own hydro and plumbing/sinks. That is a HUGE bonus, even from just a handwashing perspective.

The actual floor plan doesn't look like it has changed that much as the stalls will still remain in the old 'grid' like configuration. Maybe I am one of the few people that is excited for the new market to open.

http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/6478...

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 22:40:54

I'm excited for it to open too, and people need to remember that although there will be fewer stalls, there will be more variety now. Some of the TO Food terminal stallholders were taking up 3 and 4 stalls each previously. Now they will be limited to less stalls.

I too agree with others that a secondary market should be developed - the Goodlife building makes a lot of sense, as does the old food court right next to the market. Yale really needs to get off their butts and start re-investing in Jackson Square. It's a shame that they've done so little with the property over the years - the number of people in the complex and jobs in the complex are quite high. It could be a great shopping centre with some TLC and active marketing/recruiting of stores.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2010 at 23:23:21

So, now that Yale's been mentioned, how best to approach them? Who/what method/how? My guess is they have no idea of any way they could leverage this Market reno without taking a big financial risk on improvements they don't see paying off.

My limited experiences with talking with Jackson Square's management is basically "well, we hope for good things, but we can't really do anything to make things better or attract new retailers"

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 19, 2010 at 00:14:13

The columbian coffee stall!?! Seriously?

Of everyone I know who regularly hits the market (even those that own coffee shops), it's gotta be the most popular, and one of the most respected. If she's getting the boot, that speaks very badly of the city's new selection process for diverse and interesting stalls.

At every stage, every announcement that the new market will have less stalls has been accompanied by talk about how they're doing it to "encourage diversity", as well as a host of villainizing of stallholders who'll be removed. It's straight-up Orwellian doublethink.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 19, 2010 at 06:24:29

I'm guessing the language barrier worked against Julia here.

This. I've been corresponding further with Anna Bradford, and I think the issue comes down to the way Julia's application was filled. Anna seems pretty eager for Julia to meet with staff and resolve the outstanding issues so that they can approve her application. I'm going to meet with Julia today to see what we can do.

If she's getting the boot, that speaks very badly of the city's new selection process for diverse and interesting stalls.

I think the selection criteria per se are pretty good, but the requirement of a properly completed application appears to be a stumbling block. I'm guessing language issues are a significant obstacle for a number of stallholders, and I'm not sure how proactive the city has been about getting stallholders the support they need.

The sense I get from Julia is that she doesn't really trust "politicos" to have her interests in mind, so when they sit back and invite her to dialogue, it comes off sounding like a snowjob.

I "know" what the syntax is, my problem is that I can't remember it.

I've been asked to provide a little pop-up formatting guide next to the comment form. I think I'll go ahead and implement that.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-11-19 05:25:14

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By Tartan Triton (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 06:34:12

Yale is not Redcliff (3 of whose 18 malls are in the GHA). Neither is it Cadillac Fairview (one-time owner of the core's Eaton Centre, long-time owner of Lime Ridge Mall), a company just a few years older than Yale. Yale specializes in office towers. It is a company whose retail portfolio is limited to Jackson Square – and, yes, it holds rights to the site until something like 2071.

Nearly a third of Yale’s nation-wide square footage is located in Jackson Square and its attached towers (the company's estimate is that the mall is around 390K square feet while the towers exceed 1M square feet. Broken down to its constituent parts in Yale's “portfolio” sub-page, the property becomes five holdings – of the company’s 19.

http://www.yalecanada.com/portfolio.html

The hitch is that Jackson Square would seem to be viewed as little more than a pancaked office tower. This isn't a company that competes in retail, so it would have no compelling reason to invest in its retail assets. Since there isn't even a website for Jackson Square, I'm not particularly encouraged to believe that this is a company that is particularly responsive to consumers. I would love to be proven wrong.

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By Tartan Triton (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 06:39:54

Groggy fingers.

"Broken down to its constituent parts in Yale's “portfolio” sub-page, the property becomes five holdings – of the company’s 14."

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By JMorse (registered) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 07:47:39

The number of vendor stalls in the market is shrinking. It seems that the "market" should actually be expanding. I agree with Meredith in that there are creative solutions to this. The denied vendors could organize and locate in a nearby storefront or another space in Jackson Square or the former Eaton Centre. This should be done with the city's help, at least in arranging the terms, etc. This is obvious, isn't it?

With regards to Yale, the senior management I'm told was uninterested in a website until recently, if that. The huge amount of business that would be generated by people, including me, looking for stuff online is lost because they can't see what's located in the mall. The leadership at Yale is not forward-thinking, to say the least.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 08:17:42

Surely the City of Hamilton can find a way to accommodate the rejected vendors at another location near the new Hamilton Farmers' Market. This city cannot afford to lose 23 more downtown businesses, large or small.

By the way, an article by Susan Clairmont in today's Hamilton Spectator renews calls for the move of the Community Correctional Centre located across the street from the Hamilton Public Library and Hamilton Farmer's Market. The federal government apparently promised to move it six years ago but nothing has been done. http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

One looks forward to the day that the move of the halfway house comes to fruition. In the long term, it would be nice to see the demolition of that particular building and the construction of a building to augment the market activity and ambiance on York Boulevard.

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By Tartan Triton (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 09:45:59

JMorse: “The leadership at Yale is not forward-thinking, to say the least.”

I don’t know if they’re not forward-thinking. It’s more a matter of what they’re thinking about.

http://www.yalecanada.com/corporate.html

“Yale Properties practises a very ‘hands-on’ asset management style. Company principals work closely with long-term employees in a very streamlined and efficient format, allowing for effective and responsive operations. Highly developed information systems combined with in-house accounting and document preparation further strengthen the company’s ability to manage its assets effectively. This approach, combined with judicious property-upgrading programs, has allowed the company to excel at value creation.”

I read this as meaning that they’re militantly frugal. I would not be overly surprised if Cadillac Fairview spends more on Lime Ridge Mall Christmas promotions and decorations in a year than Yale spends on Jackson Square upgrades in a decade.

As for City Centre owners Fercan Deevelopments, their public profile is also a little wanting:

http://www.manta.com/ic/mt67gwz/ca/fercan-developments-inc
http://cannabisnews.com/news/18/thread18139.shtml

Back to the market, it would be excellent if the stretch between the Cossart and Denningers could be revamped into a market-symbiotic artery. I can't be the only one who found that the long-deceased Cinnabon and Kitchen Pantry stores were a nice gateway experience on market trips.

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By oldcoote (registered) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 09:53:01

"Back to the market, it would be excellent if the stretch between the Cossart and Denningers could be revamped into a market-symbiotic artery. I can't be the only one who found that the long-deceased Cinnabon and Kitchen Pantry stores were a nice gateway experience on market trips."

Generally, I'm against the idea of market sprawl, but I think this is a good compromise. The Denningers "odour" permeates through the area anyway, and there is additional seating here. Certainly the pho soup, salad bar, and island jet ink stores could be relocated.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 09:59:05

I'd love to see Denningers move into the central area and expand their operations. Don't even waste your time talking about Fercan (unless you follow stories about grow-ops).

It's been good to see the new businesses in JS in recent years - hopefully more will follow.
I also wouldn't mind if they would finish off the new addition to the food court. As lovely as all the hanging wires and cold drafts are, it's not really an enjoyable place to sit.

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By mikeyj (registered) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 10:22:25

"The widened sidewalks along the Farmers’ Market and Library provide opportunities for the market to spill onto the street providing room for temporary stalls where vendors, such as farmers, can sell their goods to the public." - http://www.hamilton.ca/yorkblvdplans

I guess the remaining vendors will be scrapping it out for street permits come summer. Has anything been mentioned about how this portion will proceed?

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By hmag (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 10:32:44

Just emailed the leasing agent at Yale and forwarded her these conversations - she is very open to new ideas and I hope she has time to check out everything posted here.

I especially like the "Market Walk" ideas of creating an artery from Denningers to the Market entrance is one that should be followed up on!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 19, 2010 at 10:36:02

@mikeyj

Considering that the "more local" theme of the market's vendor requirements means that a lot of sellers are going to be seasonal, it would make more sense to use the outdoor space for the ones selling fresh Ontario fruits and veggies and let the more permanent, year-around sellers use the internal space.

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 10:36:40

Is it likely the Denniger's would expand in Jackson Square seeing as their flagship store is located on King Street?

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 10:41:05

I have no clue, but it's quite a tiny store and during busy seasons you can barely move in there. They have it jammed about as full as you can get.
Maybe they could take over Good Life space or the old restaurant space just beyond Good Life (Brooks??)

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By hmag (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 10:53:28

Wouldn't that old Brooks Restaurant make a great all-day breakfast place? I love that the old wood exterior is still in place...

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By JMorse (registered) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 11:04:05

Generally, I'm against the idea of market sprawl, but I think this is a good compromise.

Wouldn't "market sprawl" be a good thing?! It's what the whole downtown needs more of!

Edit: grammar

Comment edited by JMorse on 2010-11-19 10:07:53

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By hmag (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 11:09:22


Market sprawl, art sprawl, renovated living space sprawl would all benefit the downtown. The best thing that could happen to downtown Hamilton is that we all start asking for more of the good stuff that is already happening here.

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 11:17:40

Let's don't forget free market economy sprawl. Private investments are always welcome to replace public subsidies.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 11:33:57

Sprawl = monoculture. A bigger market with more vendors is the opposite of sprawl (unless all the stalls are owned by Chiardullo and get there stuff from the same Ontario Food Terminal).

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By Tnt (registered) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 12:41:26

It seems that diversity is something that the mall can accommodate. It has a great mixture of modern spaces perfect for types of use that need modern space and it flows right onto James which is massively growing. I hope that Jackson Square can meet up with the positive vibe happening on James.

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By TomRobertson (registered) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 12:50:38

There are flaws in the selection process. While Ms. Serna is being forced out of the market and her livelihood, RedHill Coffee gets the stall even though according to its website has 7 other locations where its coffee is for sale. Once Tim Horton's begins its roasting here will it be considered a local product and be welcomed to have a stall at the market. As our city becomes more diverse what impact have these rules had on the ethnic stallholders whose produce cannot be grown locally? Should the market also not be looking after the needs of our diverse community's shopping tastes as well as the vendors. Before the appeals process begins MS. Bradford and her Cultural Department staff should be reviewing the selection process and make all necessary changes.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 19, 2010 at 13:04:41

Off the top of my head, the following areas in Jackson Square are nearly or totally vacant, and certainly up for grabs for interesting markets.

  • Both layers of the underground parking lot
  • The old BMO building at James & King
  • Many floors of Stelco Tower
  • The current market area (former IT Store etc).
  • The roof (and the 2/3 of the roof that isn't accessible).

Jackson is not going to attract new keystone corporate retailers. Most poor people in town would never be able to afford the overhead anyway. We need to give up on that strategy and start looking at alternatives, and the fact that these guys managed to pull an entire second Farmers' Market out of their hats (while we'd managed to fit all of city hall into the City Centre) demonstrates that there is, clearly, lots of room for more markets.

There is so much space there which is accomplishing nothing at all, and traditional mall-style shops have little interest in opening up downtown. Even if they did, it wouldn't do anything to set us apart from Limeridge or Mapleview anyway. If we're going to make the Farmer's Market a farmers-only type of thing, then let's open up some crafter's markets.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 19, 2010 at 13:51:07

@z jones

Well, my current pick for best coffee in the city is Global Village in Westdale, but I'm cheap so the low price point means it tastes better. I'm no connoisseur. But either way, this is a catastrophe.

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By Tartan Triton (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 13:52:31

Anyone remember what the Jackson Square of the mid-90s looked like? It seemed that a fifth of its storefronts were given over to non-profit orgs with dollar-a-year style rents. Possibly a progressive stance for management to take, although I imagine there was a compelling tax angle somewhere in there. (That and an element of necessity since the retail sector had been humbled by the recessionary gulleys of 1982/1987/1990-1991, which why that quadrant of JS was entombed in drywall). I suppose that the difference with market vendors is that they're for-profit businesses. Yale may not be in a hurry to reinvent the wheel if things are slowly starting to gain momentum, but I'm sure they'd sign a lease with any small business prepared to take a leap of faith.

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By 2bhonest (registered) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 14:00:04

Although I quite like the space that the farmers market is in now, it will be nice to return to the old space. I love shopping in Jackson Square as I hate the high end consumerism of big fancy malls. It has huge potential to become an anti-mall and offer unique merchandise that is made in the city. I love the small stores that are, for the most part, independent from the massive faceless parking lots that make up most malls today. Definitely a crafters market, together with the farmers market would be a huge boon to downtown shopping and also encourage more visits from those who 'fear to tread' the downtown core. The 'One of a Kind' show in Toronto is always popular and they charge admission! Being close to James North is a perfect alliance. Not all artists have gallery showings, in my neighbourhood (walking distance from downtown) we have many part-time artisans that would jump at the chance of a stall in Jackson Square. It is culture that makes a city become a 'destination'. Hamilton has that ability.

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 14:30:51

If the only criteria is 'Home grow or Home made" there are going to be a lot of stalls selling only carrots, cabbage & root veggies during the Winter, + home made baked goods. Could you imagine if all Ontario Farmer's Markets operated like that! As someone mentioned, no salt water fish, also no nuts or nut products, & since all urban areas ban farm animals, no meat, no eggs, no dairy products, or deli items? Can rural Flamboro, Glanbrook, & maybe Stony Creek produce enough meats, deli, eggs, & dairy products to stock a market?

Think about the Ottawa, Kitchener, or St. Lawrence Markets. Where would they be without their ethnic foods, imports & clothing? Merchants travel from areas that are hours away from those markets. I guess they should be banned too? :(

This lady has clearly Earned her right to a stall because of the quality of her products, & her long history with H.F.M. Why can't the empanadas balance the coffee?

(I'm sure that Red Hill Coffee doesn't have a plantation on Hwy. 6. I completely agree with Julia Serna. This just sounds like more of the usual buddy system grabbyness that lives so comfortably at City Hall. We have had a lot of discussion on RTH about "Why Hamilton can't attract more business'" Need we have another instance of somebody being straight armed out of their place of business to make room for somebody on the Inside Track?! )

No fruit or veggy imports at all?? That's pretty silly, & it's just going to chase customers off to the supermarkets to get their organic mangos, bananas, soya products, nut products & dried fruit. (Why make 2 trips to get groceries, if you can get everything in one place? Making an extra trip to 'buy local' is a Nice idea, but how many have time to do that every week?)

Has anyone asked 'How Local is Local"? Is Cambridge local? What about Guelph? How about a Niagara wines stall? 6 Nations? Are they local enough?

If a product is grown somewhere else, but processed locally, is it still local? If local homemade brownies contain 20% cocoa from Ghana, sugar from Cuba, flour from the U.S., butter from Quebec, & walnuts from California, & cranberries from Bala are they still local?

If those brownies are deemed 'local', just because they are mixed & baked in Hamilton, I'd like to suggest that Julia Serna's case is Won, & she gets her stall back!!

OH Yes.. I spoke to a merchant at another market on the weekend who does Not live anywhere near the GHA. He attends several farmers markets across S. Ont. every week. He gets to keep his stall at HFM-?? WHY?? (if Local is the issue?)

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted November 19, 2010 at 14:38:34

I like the "crafter's market" idea quite a bit.. interesting.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 14:53:06

First off, I am once again amazed at the breadth of insight and local knowledge that I have been given access to since finding RTH. The amount of information that the community mines collectively is absolutely staggering. The quality and quantity of that information is only eclipsed by the amazing insight of the many opinions found here. I have learned so much on this thread as well as the last few.

At some point does anyone think it would make sense for the city to lease the old food court area from Yale and then sub-lease to individual stall owners. This would simplify leasing arrangements for Yale as they would have a single point of contact rather than 20 or 30. The city could leverage its size and the size of area required to get favorable leasing rates, far lower most likely than individual stall owners would get from Yale. Ideally, this would be a zero subsidy arrangement for the city, unfortunately there lies the possible slippery slope. Any riffs, opinions or ideas on this idea would be appreciated.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted November 19, 2010 at 14:56:20

I don't have an argument to present, only my disappointment and my hope for my compatriot: Julia makes exceptionally tasty coffee and she's the only place in town for empanadas, afaik, and the market will be the poorer for not finding a little corner for her shop.

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-11-19 13:59:43

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By 2bhonest (registered) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 16:43:03

In my comment earlier I got caught up in the excitement of expanding the market to include arts and crafts and totally ignored the original purpose of the posting. The comments about filling in forms especially when English is not the first language, should be a red flag to city hall. Hamilton has a lot of immigrants that want to share their culture, whether it be through food or crafts, (which I think are the 2 main definers of ones culture). We will all be richer for encouraging newcomers to share their journey. It also gives them a chance to enter into Canadian life and maybe earn a living when jobs are scarce. The market in itself needs to realize how important it is to the people of Hamilton, from both sides - retailer and shopper. Maybe even more important than a stadium (!) Julia deserves a better explanation and more help, if needed, to re-apply.

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By Anonymously (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 18:57:06

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By adrian (registered) | Posted November 19, 2010 at 20:47:18

I think we should truly think outside the box and develop a Dollar Market, which would essentially consist of numerous stalls each of which is like a small dollar store, selling items for a dollar or less.

To fulfill diversity objectives, the city could mandate that dollar stalls import their merchandise from different countries. One stall could focus on trinkets made in China, another on household items made in the Phillipines, another on knock-off electronics made in Indonesia, etc.

The entrance to the Dollar Market could feature payday loan stalls, so that everyone who visits the market has cash to spend, even if they don't really have the money.

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By Tnt (registered) | Posted November 20, 2010 at 01:40:20

Oooo sarcasm straight up. That wakes one up almost as much as the coffee!

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 20, 2010 at 09:18:44

I think we should truly think outside the box and develop a Dollar Market

Fercan is light years ahead of you.

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By Jason2 (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2010 at 11:16:51

I see Jason shopping at the dollar stores all the time; and he asks for discounts!!! lol

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2010 at 11:19:16

The English thing is a real issue, and a little worrying. How do you strive to provide authentic ethnic foods while not realising that many of the people who provide these things at market stalls aren't always English scholars.

If this is happening at the Farmers Market, one has to wonder how many other times a week skilled workers and entrepreneurs are turned down by the city for this reason.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2010 at 10:57:39

Okay, maybe it's because I grew up in a Latin-American family, but am I the only one who really doesn't get what all this talk of a "language barrier"? Her English is quite good if I remember correctly.

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By Linguist (anonymous) | Posted November 22, 2010 at 21:44:05

There's no fucking "language barrier" here. She screwed up the paperwork. Big deal. She'll have to fix it and carry on like anyone else.

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By Robbie K (anonymous) | Posted November 22, 2010 at 22:56:49

Speaking of vendor permits for outside. Is it just me or is there a serious lack of street meat in Hamilton? I know we don't have the population of Toronto, but I can't believe we dont have a single hotdog vendor right downtown.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2010 at 23:00:26

Or waffle vendor, or taco truck, or fish and chips cart, or sandwiches, or schnitzel, or coffee, or ice cream, or meat pies, or any of fourteen thousand other things that are just as great sold from carts....

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By Robbie K (anonymous) | Posted November 22, 2010 at 23:45:57

Agreed. But seriously. Is it against some bylaw or something?

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By TomRobertson (registered) | Posted November 23, 2010 at 01:22:01

I think excessive licensing fees and red tape chased the street vendors away.

Comment edited by TomRobertson on 2010-11-23 00:22:25

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 23, 2010 at 06:02:39

I can't believe we don't have a single hotdog vendor right downtown.

We used to have a street meat vendor in Gore Park right at Hughson, but IIRC he was busted for drug trafficking.

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By crackheads (anonymous) | Posted November 23, 2010 at 09:50:40

This is why we can't have nice things.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted November 23, 2010 at 10:12:30

"IIRC he was busted for drug trafficking."

I guess the streetmeat business wasn't lucrative enough.

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By fllupster (anonymous) | Posted November 23, 2010 at 11:54:18

This Committee had an agenda--FMO wants to eliminate resellers, unless they are farmers. This "selection process" was a stacked deck--it was not objective criteria based. If FMO wants only farmers to sell fresh produce at the Hamilton Farmers Market, how will these "farmers" operate their stalls for 12 months without reselling??? Of course, FMO, despite its rhetoric, always turns a blind-eye to reselling by so-called farmers. This of course creates a major problem--if the farmer is a legitimate non-reseller will he be able to pay for the stand for 12 months. If not, will the farmer be subsidized by the City or will the losses for the market increase?

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By adrian (registered) | Posted November 23, 2010 at 22:45:28

We used to have a street meat vendor in Gore Park right at Hughson, but IIRC he was busted for drug trafficking.

Totally lame, because at least he was still legitimately selling hot dogs. The current drug dealers downtown just sell drugs. Maybe we should start going downtown and asking sketchy looking dudes if they know where to score a hot dog. "Know anyone got some sausage?" If enough people ask, they'll bow to market pressure, drop the drugs, and start selling dogs.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 24, 2010 at 06:04:18

The obvious solution is to make hot dogs illegal. Then we'll get a lively underground trade.

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By Tnt (registered) | Posted November 24, 2010 at 08:19:35

Maybe hotdogs should be illegal. They probably have more toxic things in them then most of the drugs sold on the street. Yeech!

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted November 24, 2010 at 08:23:21

Then we'll get a lively underground trade.

And the police will keep getting those annual funding increases they love so much!

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By fewer stalls? (anonymous) | Posted November 24, 2010 at 11:27:03

How can a city spend millions on renovating a farmers market and end up with -fewer- stalls than they started with???

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted November 24, 2010 at 14:39:52

... because the new stalls actually all have sinks and other things we've realized are probably pretty important to have when you're selling food.

I'm oversimplifying, of course, but there are reasons there's less stalls - a few more probably could have been eked out if the design was changed, or they didn't put in the large kitchen/class area, but long-term those wouldn't have been great changes to make.

The question is now... how does the city deal with a great problem - that there's lots of vendors who want space, give the original vendors space they were promised, and get new adjoining space. that's currently underutilized, at Jackson Square for other vendors? At least that's what I hope the city is asking and what I've asked Jason Farr.

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By Robbie K (anonymous) | Posted November 25, 2010 at 00:39:04

@fewer stalls.

A few things to consider. 1 stall does NOT equal one vendor. A "stall" represents a certain area (lets say something like 80 or 100 square feet. A lot of vendors currently have 5 or 10 stalls to themselves. I believe the plan is to ensure that each vendor takes up a maximum of 3 stalls.


There are multiple things going on here. Some Vendors are being removed and REPLACED with new ones. So while there are less Vendors, it is only by a few. 30 some odd of the 40 that are given the boot are being replaced with vendors the city believe better helps them achive the vision they have for the market.

Of course I may be wrong on all of this, these are just points I have gathered from here and thespec.com which seem to be lost in the shuffle.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 25, 2010 at 09:22:20

While other cities have more street meat than Hamilton, we've got two Denningers down town. Seriously, I love street meat, but compared to Denningers? No contest.

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